Leader in Waiting

Waiting is hard. We all know that. It’s especially difficult when the waiting is personal. It seems like I’ve been waiting for a chance to be an educational leader for twenty years. The reality is that I haven’t been waiting “that” long, it’s just hard when I know that I have so much to offer and my skills aren’t being utilized equal to my potential.

Nevertheless, I’ve been adding to my education and my resume. I may not be an administrator yet, but I’ve completed my Superintendency certificate.

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I’ve also written another play and have a research article accepted for publication.

One of my friends recently posted a question on her social media feed that I have been pondering.. “How long do you knock on a door before you accept that it is closed?”

I have to say, I can’t help but wonder if the same applies to me. By no means am I going to give up my dream to be a leader. I don’t have to… I AM A LEADER. But the reality might be that being an educational leader might have me leading and serving in an area that I didn’t plan or expect.

And isn’t that the sum of life. So much of our life happens in the waiting. I can chose to be bitter about the fact that the “fast-track” to administration has never included me. Instead, I’m choosing to learn more, reinvent myself and ultimately, I will be a stronger leader.

 

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Definitive Choices

IMG_0456How often do we choose to live in the land of the wishy washy choice so that we don’t have to go all in on something? I know that I do it. And I’m an “all in” personality.. Big time! But there are areas of my life that I need to be reminded to “go big or go home.”

Over the last two days, I had the privilege to work with a number of  high school one act play casts from the surrounding area as they prepare for competition. During this time, I found myself repeating quite a few concepts over and over to each cast. One of those was to make concrete choices and get rid of the wishy washy decisions.  It is early in their production cycle, so many of the notes I gave were quite useable (I hope!) as they have time to truly process what I said and then choose to use my thoughts or ignore them.

This got me thinking about decision making it in terms of real life.  I personally love making a decision and then going headfirst into a new adventure. I know that scares some. It invigorates me! My problem typically isn’t starting, it’s finishing.  Nevertheless, there are a number of areas in my life where I need to reevaluate my choices.

There have been times that I have chosen to go headfirst down a wishy washy path purposefully forsaking the definitive choice. Sadly, I see that and realize that the window for the definitive choice has passed me by in some areas. Knowing this, I desperately want to stop, and take the advice of business man, Brian Buffini:

“While there is a time to think about a solution, reflect on it and gather feedback from others, there comes a time when you have to forget about input from other people. Be confident in your choices, and stick by them.”

2017 By The Numbers

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450 Hours Sweating, 100 Kid’s Performances, 80 Doctor Visits, 40 College Hours, 25 Paged Play in Production,  20 Boarding Passes, 10 Radiology Reports, 4 State Parks Hiked,
3 Medical Walking Boots, 2 Surgeries and 1 Very Active and Tired Family.

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2017 was a busy year.

As I sit on my couch almost dizzy from the congestion in my head, I’m going to use this “down time” to wrap up the year! I so wanted to send out cards and a letter. I love getting cards in the mail. But I gave up. I can’t do it all… as much as I like to and think I can most days!

Anyway..

Wrapping up the year mentally has been fun. Doug and I talked through the highlights and the struggles. We know we are busy, but when you put the numbers to the activities that we do on a regular basis, it is mind boggling! No wonder my house is always messy and that there are 3 baskets of clean clothes in my living room on any given day!

So let’s start at the top of the recap:

  • 450 Hours Sweating: Doug and I make working out a priority. Most days it’s an early 4:30am start, but it is worth it for our sanity!
  • 100 Kid’s Performances: This is literally the tip of the iceberg as for every performance or contest there are double or triple the number of rehearsals and practices that we have attended.
  • 80 Doctor Visits: I’d like to say that this year was an exception and that we don’t usually see the doctor this often. I wish. Some years we have more than 100 visits. Granted, Lexi has seen the doctor way more this fall than ever and Maddie was healthier, but the sum total is in our “normal” range.
  • 40 College Hours: I completed my Superintendent’s Certification in 2017 (18 graduate hours) and Maddie completed 22 hours of college credit spending the summer before her senior year of high school as a full time college student!
  • 25 Paged Play in Production: I wrote a play this year. It’s called Unexpected Hope and it is in production! I can’t wait to see Stephenville High School perform it for their UIL competition this spring.
  • 20 Boarding Passes: Traveling is something that Doug and I love to do and we are teaching our children to enjoy. In 2017 as a family we went to Disney World and Doug and I went to Mexico and San Fransisco. Doug also travel on his own for work to St. Louis.
  • 10 Radiology Reports: Dang. Four MRI’s (two each for Maddie and Lexi), a CAT Scan for Doug, plus numerous x-rays as Lexi broke three bones this year, Doug broke one and Maddie, well, she’s Maddie.
  • 4 State Parks Hiked: In the midst of chaos, we love to get outside. We are firm believers in forced family fun in all it’s glory in the middle of nowhere and no technology!
  • 3 Medical Walking Boots: yeah. Doug, Maddie and Lexi.
  • 2 Surgeries: Doug and Maddie.
  • 1 Very Active and Tired Family

And there you have it. I’m looking forward to 2018. We have lots of plans and major life events coming up. Maybe we will get through 2018 with fewer doctor visits and bills! Wouldn’t that be a dream come true. Nevertheless, we know that no matter how few or how many medical related issues, our priority remains to…

Live BIG, Dream BIG and Love BIG.

No wonder I don’t have my Christmas Cards ready to mail!

I’m sitting on my couch drinking my second cup of coffee and enjoying a Christmas cookie for breakfast. I thought about getting up and going to work out… but it is the first day of Christmas break and I’m going to just enjoy a few minutes of peace instead. Well, it’s peace-ish..Kylie has already been up for an hour and a half and is talking to me. It’s only 7:30am.

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I had the best intentions of doing more blogging this fall and I really wanted to get Christmas cards made and sent out.. but life has been BUSY! I realize that is always my excuse, but it’s the truth!!

So instead of recording experiences and prepping cards, I’ll just hit the highlights since my last post.

Lexi turned 13!! We had a family party and then she and three friends spent the night at a hotel with an indoor pool and had a blast. I had an adjoining room and one of my friends came over and scrapbooked with me! It was a fun party.

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Doug turned 50!! I surprised him with a trip to San Francisco. We loved it!! I need to blog about our trip…

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We hosted our family Thanksgiving. We learned how to make dressing and played outside. We had a great day of just being together.

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Kylie was in her fall safari themed musical at school. She made her own ears. She is not just creative, but she makes useable items as well. Super cool.

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Lexi auditioned for Junior High All Region Band and made it! So proud of her. It is rather hard to bring home your french horn and practice when you have been on crutches for a few months!IMG_0961

Lexi broke her right ankle the first weekend of September. She has been either on crutches with a cast/boot or in a boot for more than three months. Another MRI was done this week and she sees the doctor the day after Christmas to reevaluate. This is some slow healing.

Then in mid November, Maddie experienced a 50% foot drop. For no reason at all. Just one day her right foot decided to not work. The doctor said that it is a reality of her autoimmune disease. These things will just happen. So she is in a boot until the nerves in her right leg decide to work again. Yes, that means we have two red hair beauties that are almost the same size in right boots. Yes, we stop traffic!

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Kylie got her first pedicure. Our lives are so very busy with Almost Adult 1 and Teen 2 that Child 3 gets shuffled back and forth and back and forth. It was nice to just chill and do something with Kylie that wasn’t school related.

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We decorated for Christmas.

We watched Maddie at the Yellow Jacket Football games. Our football team advanced in playoffs to be part of the final four. It was so cool to watch Maddie and the band perform at AT&T Stadium (Home of the Dallas Cowboys). Yes, Maddie performed each week in a boot!

Kylie got her braces off.

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Lexi and Maddie both had band Christmas concerts.

Kylie saw Santa

Doug and I saw Santa after we ran a local 5k…

We had Maddie’s senior pictures taken. They are amazing and I can’t decide which ones to buy.. and the reality of her growing up and leaving home is setting in…

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And I finished my Superintendency Internship! Along with everything else in our lives! I recorded over 150 minutes of video evidence of me presenting to organizations and/or interviewing district administrators about school districts, I documented over 150 hours of research and service within our district, completed the course work that accompanied the internship and I took the certification test and passed! It is so very nice to have this checked off as complete on my list of things to do!

When I look back at the highlights of the last couple of months, it is no wonder I don’t have my Christmas cards ready!!

So there you have it. I’m hopeful that this spring things might not be quite as hectic and I’ll be able to blog more. I also have some goals for the spring. Don’t worry. Nothing big. No new course work for me.. just goals like “make better food choices” and “clean the bathroom”.. things like that.

Thanks for sticking with me and have a great 2017 holiday season!

Rough Creek Trail Run

I ran the Rough Creek 10k Trail Run yesterday. WOW! It was an awesome experience. I’ve never completed a trail run before and I now know that when they say

  • steep ascents and descents for a bit, rolling hills for a while, and flats to open up and run your heart out.
  • well-groomed non-technical trail and rocky, rugged, technical sections too!

They MEAN IT!!

Dang. My calves are sore and the bottoms of my feet are feeling raw from planting on those rocks. I’m going to have to go shoe shopping before next year!

 

I’m proud of my time and place. There were 83 10k people with 51 being female. I came in at 44/83. As is my usual, I’m right in the middle of the pack. In my age group I was 6 out of 23. Not bad.

Now that I know that the course for the 10k is really closer to 7 miles, I will plan better and do more trail running. Okay, so I didn’t do any trail running prior to this, so even one run would result in a better time for next year!

Nonetheless, I had two goals for yesterday. Not fall and finish. I accomplished both!

Experiences of the Exceptionally Average

I’m going to tell you something about myself. I’m average.

There.

I said it.

It’s a relief.

There is something to be said for understanding who you are. This understanding has been earned the hard way.. through blood, sweat and tears.. but I truly appreciate the process and what I have learned about myself.

So here is what I know.

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I’m an average artist.

I’m an average runner.

I’m an average musician.

I’m an average teacher.

I’m an average friend.

I’m an average parent.

I’m average.

And I’m okay with that!

Why? Because being average doesn’t mean I am mediocre. Being average doesn’t mean that I don’t strive on a daily basis to be better or do more. But being average does mean that I have had the opportunity to recognize my strengths and weaknesses and that I am possibly more of a realist than someone who lives life from the front.

I want to share with you some of what I have learned from being thoroughly, completely, fully and even exceptionally average…

  1. It will not be easy.

    Learning to read was hard for me. I continued to work at this long after my peers had mastered reading fluently. I didn’t read well until 4th grade and this ability didn’t come easily. It took lots of repetition and reading aloud, but finally, the light switch was flipped in my brain.

  2. It will not be quick.

    One of the life lessons from the ranks of the average is that you learn perseverance. Be it homework, test preparations, learning a new role/job, or running distance miles, these tasks will take time and repetition.  Today as I plodded down the road contemplating life, I embraced the 11:30 pace that I was “running.” For whatever reason, in this season my running pace is a good two minutes plus slower than my old pace.. and that old pace wasn’t fast! But the grace in being average is that I didn’t give up. If I had once been fast, I would have quit at this pace. But living life in the average lane means that I understand that most things are going to take time!

  3. It will not be seen.

    Unless you are the valedictorian or salutatorian of your graduating class, no one else is going to remember where you sat at graduation!  I graduated number 21 in my class… since I don’t even remember if it was the second or third row… how can I expect anyone else too!

  4. It will not be flashy.

    Life is not made up of paparazzi moments. Life is made up of work and sweat and grit and occasionally, you get to be a photobomber.

But life as an exceptionally average person is not drudgery. We, the average in all things, are incredibly employable!

Why? Because of our experiences in life! When you learn through life experiences that life isn’t easy, quick, seen or flashy.. you learn to find meaning in the process and enjoy the journey!

So here is my advice to all the  “exceptionally average”… embrace it, acknowledge it, and then be empowered to do more.

UIL OAP JUDGING

As the 2017-2018 school year approaches and it’s time to hire UIL One-Act Play judges, it’s time for me to post my judging philosophy.  Over the last few years as a clinician and judge I have worked with shows from Junior High to 5A. I love and respect all levels.

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It’s judge hiring season for UIL One-Act Play. I remember as a director how stressful this time was. The wonder and the fear… so much responsibility to give just one person! And what if the judge hated our play?!! It truly was a nerve-wrecking process.

Now I sit at the other side of the table at the Director’s Meetings and I see the same stress and fear. I love that most of the district’s have gone to panel judging so that there are three sets of eyes and ears (and perspectives) as this is essentially a playoff game with no preseason or district competition to see where you rank among other schools!

For directors and contest managers still looking for judges and looking at my profile, here are my take-aways.

I love UIL OAP… all of it. The camaraderie, the competition, the nerves and the joy.

I respect you and the work that you have put in to get to this point. I competed in non-advancing OAP shows as a student. We worked just as hard as the advancing shows.

Resources are limited. I know that some schools have state of the art equipment and stages and some of you don’t even have a single 4×8 platform. As a director, I worked at 2A, 3A and 4A schools. I have lived in both worlds.

I value your students. As a judge, I give honest critiques, but my goal is that every student walks away feeling empowered by the UIL OAP experience. I don’t believe in belittling students, nor do I believe that it anything is gained by making a student feel as if he or she was solely responsible for the failure or the success of a production.

I appreciate the opportunity and I don’t take it lightly. When I sign my judging ballot, please know that I take the responsibility seriously… I have read your play prior to competition, I have watched the production you have placed on the stage, I have taken detailed notes, and I have given constructive feedback. It is only after the awards and critiques are over that I take a deep breath of relief. Getting it right is that important.

Thanks for taking the time to consider me for a judging assignment.

Emily McLemore

Adjunct Drama Instructor: Ranger College
Visual Art Teacher: Stephenville High School

MFA, Theatre: Florida Atlantic University
BA, Theatre: Hardin-Simmons Universit

All for the +1, tweet, share and a follow

Social Media. It is a significant part of our lives.. whether we acknowledge it, believe it, or even if we want to run from it.

Good or bad, social media isn’t going to go away and refusing to figure out how to harness the positive attributes of social media because you hate the bad is like telling a teenager that “rock music is of the devil” and expecting the teen to stop listening to it!(And while no, I don’t believe such nonsense about rock music… I did hear that comment regularly from the ultra-conservative church that I went to as a child… but that is a blog story for another day..)

As a mom of daughters 17, 12, and 7 I am scared to death of what they will see and experience because of social media. But I can’t let that fear drive my decisions. I pray that they don’t have fake accounts and live secret lives on Instagram (if they have a “finsta” account I want to KNOW!!), but I hope that they don’t have choose to live fake lives in general! It’s my job as a parent to invest myself into their lives and make secret social media profiles so difficult that it isn’t worth the effort.

And I feel the same way about social media in the classroom. As a high school art teacher, I am constantly having to redirect students to spend more time on their art than on their phones. Snapchats are sent at a few hundred per minute. I’d like to believe that the majority of my students don’t use social media inappropriately, but given that they can’t stop themselves from looking, checking, snapping and posting everything that comes into their lives, I know that they are not going to consistently make decent choices. That is life.

So how do I model appropriate use? Because truly, that is where the teaching starts.. modeled behavior.

At home, I try not to post pictures of my children that they truly hate. My oldest daughter, Maddie keeps me in check. 🙂 Maddie is such a wise soul and reminds me that not every moment needs to be documented for the world and that basically life is a personal journey, not a social media journey. Yeah, I’m very grateful to have such an awesome 17 year old!

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At school, I takes dozens of pictures every day of students working. I have Stephenville High School Art Facebook and SvilleArt Instagram (that i forget to post on, so I have to tag my pictures from my personal account..eek.) but I post pictures regularly of students working. People love seeing my students in action and chronicling a work in progress is crucial for my students to see where they started and how far they have come by the time they finish their projects.

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One of the benefits of taking so many pictures of students at work is that there are no secrets in my classroom.  If a parent or an administrator wants to know what is going on, check my Facebook or Instagram feed… or better yet, come visit personally! There is no expectation of privacy in my classroom and that is a very good thing. No student or teacher needs to get so comfortable within their environment that they feel like it’s is a private room. What goes on in V21 DOESN’T stay in V21! Yes, I am a mentor and have lots of confidential conversations with students that I would never share on social media, but the general essence of my classroom isn’t a private or protected environment. And even if I wanted it to be, the reality is that with students and their devices, it wouldn’t be private anyway!

So as the world of technology gets murkier with each passing day, I firmly believe in the value of social media. I love that through the use of Facebook and Instagram the families and friends of my students get to see what they are learning and creating on an almost daily basis. No matter where in the world they live!

Are there problems? Of course there are. And this whole fake Instagram “finsta” stuff has me rattled for sure! But I have to keep asking questions and not letting the problems of social media scare me away from the benefits. As parents and teachers our job is to push, to prod, to teach, to encourage, to correct, to forgive, to inspire and to love.  Modeling appropriate use of social media for my students helps me to do that.

And those are my thoughts on the use of social media for  #EDUBLOGSCLUB PROMPT 19.

Sandwich Parenting

Sandwich Parenting… parenting your own children and parenting your parents. It isn’t easy. Maybe that’s why it’s called that, cause being caught inside both ends of the spectrum means that you end up smooshed like a piece of expired bologna.

Today was one of those days.

 

I don’t put this out there to get a woe is me. I am not a martyr. But I am very much the mom of three kids that need me and the daughter-in-law turned parent figure of a very vocal and needy mother-in-law. My husband takes the brunt of his mother’s ire, but man, oh man, parenting a parent while parenting your own children is difficult.

Below is a snapshot of two REAL CONVERSATIONS this morning…

with the 7 year old

Daughter: Can we go to the storage building?
Dad: Why?
Daughter: To get a dollhouse couch.
Dad: Not today. We are all sick and getting in the storage building would be bad for our allergies.
Daughter: (Tears) Why can’t I ever get what I want? Why don’t you understand me?…

 with the 77 year old

Mom: Can we go to the storage building?
Son: Why?
Mom: I want to look for some perfume.
Son: Not today. We are all sick and getting in the storage building would be bad for our allergies.
Mom: (Tears) Why can’t I ever get what I want? Why don’t you understand me?…

It’s the daily conversations like these that wear on your soul. You expect to have fights with your kids. That’s part of parenting. But having duplicate fights with a grown woman are hard to take on a daily basis.

What is truly frustrating to me is that I watched my father-in-law have these same conversations with his mother and Doug’s mom wasn’t happy with incredible stress that was placed on her husband because of it. By the time I joined the family Doug was a grown man and his parent’s were retired while caring for Doug’s dad’s parents.  But here I am watching the same situation, next generation, but our children are small enough to still need lots of parenting. I am trying my absolute best to not be bitter. Some days are harder than others.

So for those of you out there living in the land of sandwich parenting, let me say, you are not alone. It is tough and it feels like no matter the decision you make for your parent it isn’t the right one, but hold on and enjoy the very rare and brief moments when all the ingredients in the sandwich create a masterpiece.